Erin Hecht

Erin Hecht

Assistant Professor
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Erin Hecht Headshot
Hecht received her B.S. in Cognitive Science from the University of California San Diego in 2006, and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Emory University in 2013. Before moving to Harvard, she was a Research Scientist in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State University, and an Affiliated Scientist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. Hecht joined the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in January 2019. Her lab’s research asks how brains change in response to selection pressure on behavior, and how brains acquire heritable adaptations for complex, learned behaviors. Comparisons between modern humans and our living primate relatives provide a way to address this question in the context of our own evolutionary history. In addition, the lab investigates general mechanisms of brain-behavior evolution by studying “unnatural selection” in intentionally-bred animals. Current areas of focus include neural and behavioral variation in domestic dog breeds and domesticated foxes, neural plasticity in humans during the acquisition of skills for which humans have innate predispositions, and the relationship between individual variation in brain anatomy, neural plasticity, and learning. The lab’s methods include structural and functional neuroimaging in humans, dogs, and other species; histology and microscopy; and behavior measurements. Hecht has two Australian shepherds, Lefty and Izzy, who are mostly good.